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  • Writer's pictureRipley Johnson

Waking Through the Closet Door

The preliminary informing is done, and now I want to share with all of you what happened a few nights ago.

After our daughter had fallen asleep, my husband and partner of more than 20 years sat down on the couch and came out of the closet.

My husband is gay.

(This is his TikTok of him coming out to his parents)

(this is their reaction)

(This is my response TikTok)

Was I shocked?


Well, I wasn't shocked by his sexual orientation. I've known him better than anyone else for such a long time now, it was almost like a subliminal message running through our lives for a couple of decades. We had talked about it sometimes when the cracks in our relationship would open up, but he still wanted to pretend that it wasn't real. He couldn't accept it and I knew that I wouldn't be able to change that.

So of course I was stunned when I heard him say that he had finally found a way to accept being gay, and to share his truth out loud and on purpose at the age of 50.

I was impressed.

I was knocked out by his strength and courage.

I was also suddenly balanced on a knife edge of fear and uncertainty.

When I think of my future now, it isn't the 3 of us anymore. Every idea of tomorrow has suddenly become a gaping black hole from which no light is ever reflected and nothing can be seen. I'm too affraid to look at it for more than a second.

We still both love each other very much and have no impending plans to divorce even though we will be seeing other people. There hasn't been a single harsh word from either of us and we harbor no ill will or resentment. There has been no infidelity nor have there been any flirtations. Because being faithful to a promise is at the core of who my husband is.

We spoke to River about daddy wanting to fall in love with boys instead of girls, and she literally could not care less. It doesn't matter to her if mom and dad love each other platonicly or romanticly as long as there is still a strong and lasting love between us.

She knows that she is safe, loved, and the most important part of our lives. Anything else is trivial.

I bet you're wondering...

How did this happen?

Why did this happen?

As long as people continue to perpetuate the myth that homosexuality is a conscious choice made only by people with low moral value, more families will continue to be built on the unstable foundation of deception.

To be clear, I'm not talking about a gay person deceiving their straight spouse. I'm talking about a gay person deceiving themselves into a hetero relationship/marriage/family thinking that things will somehow work out and no one will ever suspect the truth that 1/2 of the partnership is suffering in silence.

It's natural to think that I must be feeling angry/hurt/betrayed, but I don't feel any of that.

While I haven't been a closeted homosexual, I know all about hiding who you are as a form of survival.

Growing up in a cult, I lived in two closets. I pretended to have a normal home life when I was at school and pretended things were fine at school when I was home. When I would visit grandparents, aunts, cousins, or the few times I saw my dad when I was growing up, I had to pretend that I wasn't full of anxiety. I had to pretend that I didn't hate my life. I had to pretend that I wasn't pretending. There was no safe space where I could just be a regular kid.

There's also the matter of my family thinking I was gay simply because I have always been exactly as dainty and feminine as a jackhammer.

It would be more accurate to say that they worried I was gay. There were so many overtures and manipulations to get me to be more feminine over the years. My dad actually managed to inadvertently start a rumor at my high school that I was a lesbian. He would talk shit about me at work and a couple of his coworkers had kids that went to the same high school that I did. His coworkers shared my dad's gossip with their kids, who then told some of their friends. Thankfully, I wasn't popular enough for my supposed proclivity to be of much interest to my peers, but I was made aware of what was being said and who was saying it.

Eventually, When I got older and out on my own, I started thinking that my family and peers probably knew something I didn't and I tried dating women for a while.

About that experience I can only say that if my husband and other closeted gay men felt the same way about being with a woman as I did, they should all be awarded compensation for their years of suffering and medals for their fortitude.

But here's the important thing; for my husband and I, the most hurtful words were the ones spoken by our own families.

It's easy to say, "If I had known, I wouldn't have said those things."

As if it's the words that are the problem instead of the beliefs and additudes behind them.

"You are disgusting"

"The bible says you should be put to death."

" I hope everyone like you gets AIDS and dies."

This is what we heard our family members say so casually again and again while we were growing up, because our family never considered that we might be taking these comments personally.

But I was lucky. I knew I wasn't going to be punished by God because I found women to be about as sexually attractive as a thrift store coffee table.

Chris also felt nominally enthusiastic about romance with women, but for him it created overwhelming shame, guilt, and fear, causing him to be overly defensive for most of his life.

His coming out is nothing short of epic level courage.

How could I ever be angry about someone I love so much finally freeing himself from such a dark and miserable prison?

My anger and sense of betrayal is rightly directed at the society that forced him to build that prison and lock himself inside it for decades.

I am just one of hundreds of thousands of straight spouses left to clean up our society's mess.

Am I hurting? Yes.

Am I afraid of a future alone? Very.

Am I careening wildly through an emotional gauntlet? Naturally.

Is any of this his fault? No.

Will I ever stop loving him? Never.

I'm estranged from 95% of my family because they have made it painfully clear that I'm not the kind of person that belongs in their lives.

Now I'm discovering that my marriage has always been on borrowed time and the clock is winding down.

And at the moment I most need to surround myself with friendly people, the world is still in the firm grip of a deadly pandemic.

I can honestly say that I have never felt this alone or insecure at any point in my life.

Thankfully, I've already been working with a psychologist on other issues, so I can get help dealing with this at our next appointment.

These feelings are only temporary.

Things will work themselves out eventually.

Hopefully, someday, I'll find a guy who is looking for a woman with a thirst for knowledge, a passion for laughter, and a heart she keeps stretching with the hopes it might one day be big enough to hold the whole world.

But until then...

Thanks for reading.

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